- Jamaica has taken the lead internationally as the present Tobacco Regulations are very strong.
- Jamaica should quickly move to become fully compliant with its obligations under the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control
- The Government intends to address all the other matters but felt a need to move forward with the measures that would have the most direct public health impact.
Head of the Convention Secretariat of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), Dr. Haik Nikogosian said although the progress overall with respect to implementing the FCTC has been slow over the years, Jamaica has taken the lead internationally as the present Tobacco Regulations are very strong. He commended the Minister of Health for his leadership in this regard.
“There is still need for a comprehensive Tobacco Control Bill to tackle all the issues in the FCTC. Jamaica has been doing well in many areas but there is need to now focus on things like the illicit trade and the banning of direct and indirect advertising, sponsorship and promotion. There also needs to be the creation of a national coordination mechanism to move the process forward systematically,” he said.
He said Jamaica should quickly move to become fully compliant with its obligations under the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and pointed out that this responsibility lies with all sections of the Government and not just the Health Ministry.
“The FCTC is an international public health treaty but there is a misconception that only the Health Ministry is responsible to implement the obligations. All Ministries have equal responsibility. The country ratified the Convention through Parliament and so the entire Government is obligated to comply. I do not think the legal dimension of the treaty is fully understood,” he said.
Meanwhile, Minister of Health, Dr. Fenton Ferguson said the current tobacco Regulations were only the beginning of the process to implement the obligations under the FCTC. He said the Government intends to address all the other matters but felt a need to move forward with the measures that would have the most direct public health impact.
“We do understand that we have further to go to ensure our compliance and address the issues surrounding the exposure to tobacco especially where our youngsters are concerned. That is why we have been meeting and consulting about matters involving advertising, sponsorship and promotion as well as the illicit trade. I am fired up and ready to push forward with these measures,” he said.
Dr. Ferguson thanked Dr. Nikogosian for the visible support that he has given to Jamaica and said he was looking forward to continue working with him to address the additional areas under the FCTC.
Dr. Nikogosian left the island on Friday after the official visit at the invitation of Dr. Ferguson. His visit was a follow-up to the recently held high level consultations on tobacco and trade and comes as Jamaica prepares to put in place additional tobacco control legislation in furtherance of its commitment under the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
Dr. Ferguson invited Dr. Nikogosian to visit Jamaica to assess the position of the country with respect to tobacco control as well as provide some guidance to our future action in this area.